Optional Protocol to the
Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman
or Degrading Treatment
26 January 2016
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
Approach of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment regarding the rights of persons institutionalized
and treated medically without informed consent*
The present document is issued in accordance with the mandate of the
Subcommittee set forth in article 11 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The Subcommittee has a mandate to visit places where persons are deprived of their
liberty. This includes health-care settings, as defined in paragraph 4 of the Optional
During its visits, the Subcommittee has documented numerous human rights
violations in health-care settings where persons are held and treated without informed
consent. Furthermore, it has encountered situations in which the nature of the treatment
provided, and the manner in which it is provided, falls short of the requirements of
international human rights law. This also includes situations where persons are
involuntarily restrained by mechanical or chemical means.
The purpose of the present document is to contribute to the prevention of torture and
cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by setting out the Subcommittee’s views on the
rights of persons who are in detention owing to their health status.
II. Involuntary confinement and restraints in health-care
Involuntary confinement of any person is a form of arbitrary detention unless it is
ordered by a competent and independent judicial authority through due process, which must
include close and constant review. States should develop and make available alternatives to
* Adopted by the Subcommittee at its twenty-seventh session (16-20 November 2015).